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Rambo III movie poster


RAMBO III

"God would have mercy—He won't."  

(1988)  Director Peter MacDonald


Can you appreciate this movie without knowledge of the history of War in Afghanistan, without seeing the first two movies, or without some understanding of the post-Vietnam Soldier? HELL YES, but it adds so much to the character and the story if you understand the background. Post 9/11, how things have changed. See footnote 1. You may be surprised if you hadn't heard..

ODE TO RAMBO
If I had to pick one movie to represent what is it Action Movie Freaks love about Action Movies, this would be it.  It would have to be a Stallone movie anyway, and Rambo at that.  He is the Action Movie Hero.  The do-it-all-yourself, get-it-done, no-hesitation soldier rolled up into an epicly superb physique!

Let's say you didn't see the first two Rambo movies (although if you're reading this the chances of that are nil), Rambo III presents what a bad ass/good guy Vietnam veteran John J. Rambo is for you in the introduction. Starting with kids and monks as the company he keeps, Rambo is competing in a beefcake fest of stickfighting. Athletic prowess is a huge part of why we love Action Figures. Rambo is the quintessential Action Figure, plus he's noble. He's his own army. It just doesn't get any cooler.

FIGHTING THE 'GOOD' FIGHT
In the stickfight, Rambo takes a beating. He fights back, but it's not until he gets good and mad that he pours it on to smack the shit out of the other guy (great sound effects) in just a few blows. (Hard blows. Love how the crowd reactions are edited in.)  Part of me thinks Rambo wants to take a beating for what he feels are the past 'sins' he committed in war. Like maybe it's partly self punishment, partly to take a measure of his opponent.  At the end it seems, once he's in the zone, killing does go through Rambo's mind, which hints at his dark side. Maybe his opponent senses this, and surrenders. At that moment, Rambo backs down. Then, being the good guy he truly is, Rambo gives him a hand/stick up. 

Rambo gets paid for the fight, although we see he fought just to give the money away to the monks. The fight scene is also definitely a little "rope-a-dope".  When you take a beating first, at least the crowd feels they got their money's worth. Also, in a good fight scene, it can't be an easy win—that would seem like a mismatch.  It shows you're tougher if you can take a beating, than if you just win easily.  That's never truer than in this whole movie. 

This first fight scene depicts Rambo's inner battle. He'll fight if he has to (for money), if he's pushed—he's really good at it, but doesn't want to be, because he is trained to kill. Being so good at something evil, which tears you up inside, is the soldier's dilemma. Especially for a Vietnam soldier because their sense of honor, duty, and country, and their sacrifice (what they did for what they believed in), went unappreciated by too many. Rambo is searching for self acceptance and inner peace, but has to fight (literally) to find himself.

Enter Richard Crenna again as Colonel Trautman. This time he has tracked Rambo down in Thailand. Trautman's brought along a field officer, Robert Griggs, from the local US Embassy.

GRIGGS Well, you're certainly not easy to find.
RAMBO Why are you keeping track?
GRIGGS Well, like the Colonel says, good men are hard to find.

Which raises the question: Why is Rambo still hiding? Griggs explains why they've come to see Rambo. After nine years of fighting, the Afghan Rebels are beating the Soviets except in one region, where they are being slaughtered by a particularly brutal Soviet Commander who needs to be taken out. [It was the popular public opinion at the time that the US was involved in the Afghan civil war because they didn't want the Soviets to gain control of Afghanistan, which is next to Pakistan, which is on the Arabian Sea. [The Arabian Sea connects the Persian Gulf and the coastlines of Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq (oil map) . . . the countries producing the most oil (and Kuwait and the UAE).] 

Trautman is there to ask Rambo to go with him on his mission to kill the Soviet Commander. Rambo tells them his war is over, and walks away. End of conversation. But Trautman follows Rambo, and we get to the heart of the matter.

TRAUTMAN This mission is important, John.
RAMBO Do you really think we're gonna make a difference?
TRAUTMAN If I didn't, I wouldn't be going.
RAMBO It didn't before.
TRAUTMAN That was another time.

Rambo makes his case for staying put. If you didn't see the first two movies, but knew about how Vietnam Vets were treated, then you would understand why Rambo might want to stay away from America, but until this part of Rambo III, you do not know about the ongoing battle inside Rambo ("You can't just turn it off"). Trautman explains, and even without the first two movies, you understand Rambo's inner struggle.

TRAUTMAN When are you gonna come full circle?
RAMBO What are you talking about?
TRAUTMAN You said that your war is over. Well, maybe the one out there is, but not the one inside you.
I know the reason that you're here John, but it doesn't work that way. You may try, but you can't get away from what you really are.
RAMBO And what do you think I am?
TRAUTMAN A full-blooded combat soldier.
RAMBO Not anymore. I don't want it.
TRAUTMAN That's too bad, 'cause you're stuck with it.

Let me tell you a story, John. There was a sculptor, and he found this stone: a special stone. He dragged it home and he worked on it for months, until he finally finished. When he was ready, he showed it to his friends and they said he had created a great statue, and the sculptor said he hadn't created anything. The statue was always there. He just cleared away the small pieces.

We didn't make you this fighting machine. We just chipped away the rough edges. You're always going to be tearing away at yourself until you come to terms with what you are. Until you come full circle.

RAMBO I guess I'm not ready yet.
TRAUTMAN Well . . . I gotta move. Promise me you'll look me up when you get stateside.
RAMBO Colonel, I'm sorry, but it's gotta end for me sometime.
TRAUTMAN I understand . . .

So Rambo refuses to go. It just seems like more of the same to him. He is hiding from his true nature, that of a fighting machine. As he said: "I don't want it." 

RESCUE MISSION
Trautman goes on his mission without Rambo and, of course, gets captured. The how or why Trautman gets captured is a bit short and weak, but in the interest of the length and pacing of the movie, how and why is not important. It can be attributed later to a betrayal by the gun dealer anyway.  All that is important is now Rambo has to (wants to) rescue Trautman [the setup :)]. Griggs comes to tell Rambo what happened, and how 'the system' treats Rambo comes up (again if you saw the other movies) and you know what's coming when Rambo tells Griggs he wants to go after Trautman. 
      

GRIGGS It can't be done officially.
RAMBO Then make it unofficial.
GRIGGS If it can be done, I want you to know up front, that if you're captured, or if any of this leaks we'll deny any participation or even knowledge of your existence.
RAMBO I'm used to it.

Also, if you didn't see the first two movies, you don't know the strength of the bond the two men have through post-war events and beyond the bond created by war and the chain of command, however, Rambo delivers the feeling in a later scene. [The fact that he doesn't say it now, gives it much more impact later.] Trautman getting captured also introduces us to the Soviet Colonel Zaysen and his scary helicopter (Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind gunship which features an obscene amount of weaponry attached), and sinister voice. 

Rambo III view of AfghanistanRambo gets the supplies he requested from Griggs, and sets off alone with a native guide, Mousa Gani, who is delivering medical supplies to a village near the fort where Trautman is being held. (There is a funny exchange between them as Mousa asks whether Rambo has experience in war. To really appreciate this, you have to have seen the first two movies, and if you did, it's awesome because Mousa has NO idea what a Super Solider Rambo is.) The gun dealer watches them leave from the shadows. (If they had shown that the gun dealer betrayed Trautman before you see him here with Rambo, it might have created some tension when Rambo approaches the gun dealer to ask for the guide. I think this would have been better than just having him watch Rambo as he leaves, and reveal him later as a snitch.) The (depicted) beauty of Afghanistan in the film is stunning (it was filmed in other places, including Israel). They go on horseback to meet up with the villagers near where the Zaysen is holding Trautman.


THE 'GOOD' FIGHT'S WORTH dying FOR

[And worth making a movie (3 movies) about.] After Trautman is captured, he is interrogated. The scene where the two Colonels butt heads is interesting because they speak for the US and the USSR at that time (1989). As part of their cold war strategy, the US took sides in the Afghan civil war, siding with the Islamic Mujahideen rebels against the Communist (Marxist) Afghan government and their allies, the USSR. Although the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan began on May 15th, 1988, and this movie did not come out in theaters until May 25th, when Trautman makes reference to the civil war in Afghanistan being the USSR's Vietnam, it still rang true because like 'our' war, it dragged on forever, and as it turned out they also could not win and gave up and withdrew. 

I think the backdrop matters to the plot very specifically. The Afghans served as a model of indefatigability, and as a substitute for South Vietnam. If the Mujahideen rebels are South Vietnam, then the "Democratic Republic of Afghanistan" is North Vietnam (don't let the word "democratic" confuse you). However, without how Stallone felt about the Vietnam War, this movie might never have been made, nor the first two, which were a specific commentary on Rambo III Masoud character based on real-life Ahmad Shah Massoudevents of the time. A parallel between the spirit embodied by John Rambo and the spirit of the Rebel fighters is precisely illustrated in the scene where Rambo meets with the villagers to ask for help in rescuing Trautman. They want him to wait but he says he can't. So they tell him he'll die. His response "Then I die."
Rambo's willingness to die prompts an explanation from one of the rebels, "Masoud" (based on a real-life Afghan leader Ahmad Shah Massoud), who explains they have already said their last rites and consider themselves dead. That it's an honor to die for what they believe in. This congruence gets the villagers on Rambo's side. If something's worth fighting for, it should be worth dying for, otherwise why bother? In a way, Rambo (and Stallone?) are saying "Look at this war, it's just like Vietnam, and it matters too." [Stallone even made public service announcements about the plight of the Afghan Rebels. It seemed really noble at the time to side with the seeming underdog fighting against the 'evil' superpower.1]  But back to the movie . . . 

It's a tribute to the Afghan people that Rambo/Stallone plays their national sport (buzkashi aka the goat game, although they say sheep in the movie), and a perfect comment on war that the Soviets attack while the Afghans are playing a harmless game. The purpose of this scene is to show the Soviet Colonel enjoying the massacre. He can't just sit at a desk and order the attack—our hate for him has to become personal—he mans the helicopter, drops the bombs, and shoots the women and children himself, with relish. In the middle of the devastation, Rambo shows fearlessness and determination. He pours it on to reach the big anti-aircraft gun2 after the first runner gets blasted.  This point-A-to-point-B run amps up the intensity of the attack for the audience, and it appears Rambo has some luck, as he is narrowly missed by gunfire: first on horseback, and then on foot. He takes out the second helicopter (not the one with the Colonel Zaysen in it) by shooting at it head on, and then hides. Losing the other 'copter has clearly angered and shaken Zaysen. He brings his helicopter down really low searching for the gunman (Rambo). His helicopter looks like a shark trolling the waters (and it sets up a payoff later where staying too near the ground turns fatal). Seeing nothing, Zaysen leaves. The attack is over. Now the remaining villagers head for the border to evacuate, but Rambo cannot be convinced to go with them.

first helicopter explosion from movie Rambo III

MASOUD This is not your war.
RAMBO It is now.
MASOUD You are a good friend.

Until now, we haven't really seen Rambo in action (unless, again, you saw the first two films and know what he's capable of), although he just looks so damn competent. We've seen him ride a horse, run, shoot, and hide, but the 'party' hasn't even started yet. Now we know the Soviet Colonel is a bastard, and has to be taken down, and Rambo feels he's running out of time . . .

MASOUD Why must you do this?
RAMBO Because he'd do it for me.

NO TOY SOLDIER
All the Afghan history aside, this movie is a magnificent depiction of the bravery of one determined and highly skilled Super Solider  winning against overwhelming odds. He has some help from his guide, a kid, the man he rescues, and then at the end (Spoiler Alert) . . . the cavalry arrive to save the day. Rambo's assault on the fort is fun to watch. He sets timed explosives around to go off and create a diversion (and make it seem like they are under attack by more men) so he can sneak in and rescue Trautman from his holding cell. Like the first fight scene, this cannot go smoothly or happen too easily. First Rambo and Mousa have to crawl through a mine field, then slip under trip wires. There is barbed wire (no match for Rambo's signature big knife3), guard towers, searchlights and armed sentries on patrol with dogs. Meanwhile, prisoners are being tortured and one is shot.  We begin to feel Rambo's sense of urgency as Colonel Zaysen coldly watches the electric shock torture of a prisoner from the shadows.

Rambo makes it undetected into the prison area of the fort. All seems to be going as planned, although Mousa and the boy are still outside. Rambo finds Trautman, but before he can unlock his cell, the boy enters and becomes the wrench in the works. All hell breaks loose in a gun battle, and the bombs placed by Rambo and Mousa start to go off. It's fabulous! Something blows up (it seems like) every 3 seconds for the next 3 minutes. I counted over 30 explosions (on screen and off) (fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #1). The boy (who had followed them until it was too late for them to send him back or get him to leave) gets wounded in the leg (by Zaysen, who else), and Rambo and Mousa have to flee without Trautman in order to get the boy to safety.

This sets up another fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome action scene in a movie chock full of crazy-awesome action scenes (like one with more than 30 explosions)! After the boy is shot, Rambo is also wounded by a flying stick of wood from one of the blasts. He snaps it off, and retreats through the sewer (another gun battle, more explosions) to the outside perimeter of the fort, the boy over his shoulder. This is a classic Rambo moment, sprinting with an automatic weapon in one hand, a kid in the other, explosions in the background—he even jumps over flames.

They are met by a villager who brought horses for a getaway (only to get shot for his efforts). Rambo takes out a troop convoy truck with a grenade launcher, and then the three of them escape to find safety in the caves. Meanwhile, Zaysen is taking his anger over Rambo escaping out on Trautman. His anger is mixed with contempt, but a little awe creeps in.

ZAYSEN Who is this terrorist?! What makes you so valuable to him? This bastard tried to destroy me tonight, but he failed! At sunrise I will hunt him down and have his skin hanging on the wall.
TRAUTMAN You don't have to hunt him.
ZAYSEN WHAT?!    [fear-shock-disbelief]
TRAUTMAN He'll find you.   [ooooh . . . Rambo doesn't run away!]
ZAYSEN Are you insane? One man against trained commandos?
Who do you think this man is?
God?
TRAUTMAN No. God would have mercy. He won't.

Once in the caves, Rambo sends Masoud and the boy away, and now is truly all on his own.

Fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #2: He removes the piece of wood, pours gunpowder in the wound, then lights it on fire! Oh yeah. And he screams. (How did they do that?!)

He recovers and the next day he goes back for Trautman. Not the easy way. While dozens of commandos are combing the countryside looking for him, Rambo scales up the side of the cliff to drop back into the prison area in the nick of time, as they were just about the barbeque Trautman. The two of them break out, bringing along with them the rest of the prisoners. I love how the encampment looks all burnt to shit as they easily leave the enclosure through a huge gap in the blackened fence. In a classic move, Rambo steals Zaysen's helicopter right from under his nose after he lands it from his unsuccessful manhunt for Rambo. Zaysen was probably headed straight to take it out on Trautman, but surprise! Zaysen's men are laid out and Trautman's gone.

Rambo's group all escape but the helicopter gets shot up (yeah, Zaysen is PISSED) and Rambo has to crash land it. (Awesome heavy object through wind sound.) There's another death as one of the prisoners falls out the open 'copter door and dangles until Zysen shoots him in the back. Rambo blows up a lookout tower that is firing on them. The helicopter makes it over the edge of the cliff and falls into the valley. Rambo crash lands safely and they get out just as the helicopter blows (no, Rambo does not look back at the explosion—'cause cool guys don't look at explosions). The group splits up. Rambo and Trautman are heading for the border. Now, the manhunt is on! (I wondered why Rambo didn't use any of the heavy artillery the helicopter had on the fort before he left but maybe he didn't want to hang around and put the passengers at risk.)

HIDE AND SEEK
Rambo and Trautman are at a severe disadvantage since they have no numbers to match the army that is after them. (Little did we know how much hiding in caves would make the news years later!) Still climbing around outside while Trautman looks for somewhere to hide, Rambo uses his exploding tip bow and arrow to take yet out another helicopter. Classic Rambo! A furious Zaysen retaliates from his 'copter by dropping a barrel explosive as Rambo just barely makes it into a hole leading to a cavern.

 Here's where 'the party' starts. Now the essence of the Super Solider that Rambo is comes into play. In another spectacular shot (the helicopter getting taken out by an arrow is still burned on your corneas), the exploding barrel blows up and rains liquid fire down into the drop hole where Rambo is still descending on the rope to take cover. The cave half fills with fire and incinerates the rope. Rambo drops the rest of the way and  has to roll as a shower of flame hits the ground right behind him. He sprints through fire(Stalllone does this stunt!) to seek cover with Trautman.

TRAUTMAN That was close John! How are ya?
RAMBO Well done.

Now it's really cat and mice as the commandos pour into the caves from above, rappelling on lines as a trail of dust follows them—the dust trails beautifully illuminated in shafts of blue light against the jet-black darkness. One by one, Rambo picks them off as only he can in a variety of lethal ways. The first Soviet soldier Rambo takes out (with his bow and arrow) is the one wearing the night vision goggles who is in contact with Zaysen. Not for long. The radio sounds. Zaysen was no doubt calling his man to see if had spotted Rambo, but the spotter was already dead. Guess who answers.

ZAYSEN WHO ARE YOU?!
RAMBO Your worst nightmare.

The look on Zaysen's face is shock and fear. So satisfying.

Rambo picks off the rest of the commandos in the cave except one that Trautman shoots (saving Rambo's life) and, apparently, a walking wall of muscle known as Kourov.  Kourov must have climbed out after he survived one of Rambo's exploding arrows by using one of his own men as a shield. Rambo climbs back up the rope hand over hand (bad ass doesn't even use his legs) to reach the surface where Trautman is already scouting around. Apparently Trautman missed Kourov because he grabs Rambo and hoists him out of the hole by his neck. Rambo fights back but then gets squeezed in a bear hug which no doubt hurts like hell from the wound he has. Rambo finds a grenade on Kourov's jacket and pulls the pin, at which point Kourov lets go.

What happens next is fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #3: With a roundhouse kick, Rambo sends Kourov flying backward, where (thanks to the slippery nature of sand) like a golf ball he 'rolls into the cup'. The rope that Rambo had wound around Kourov's neck a couple times is still attached and it keeps Kourov from falling to the cavern floor (it's tied to a large rock topside) but tick tock tick tock . . the grenade! It looks like he was blown to bits. It's a big explosion (how big is not captured below), but just at the end you see the body dropping in flames. (again-how did they do that!) (see it here @1:47) (I don't know if it was the first time they ever killed someone like this in a movie but it was the first time I ever saw it.)

Rambo III exploding soldier scene

Rambo and Trautman have about :20 seconds of thinking they got away until the entire Soviet Army shows up: tanks and hundreds of troops in an assortment of vehicles, and of course, at the front, Zaysen in his helicopter (the only remaining helicopter) braying out orders for them to surrender over the loudspeaker. Rambo's decision? Fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #4: "Fuck 'em!"

In a little Butch-and-Sundance moment, Rambo and Trautman take on the whole Soviet Army. This time, they have someplace to hide: As they start shooting, they jump into a ditch. [Zaysen looks uber annoyed. It's great! ("Inconceivable!" from Princess Bride comes to mind—that they did not surrender.)]

Less than a minute later, the rebel cavalry rides in. Now, it's a party. I love how Rambo would not accept defeat. He and Trautman just starting shooting and jumped in the ditch for cover and kept on fighting. It might be a miracle, it might be luck or fate, whatever you call it, that they stayed alive long enough for help to arrive. Re-energized, Rambo charges into battle on foot (fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #5) as the Soviets turn turn to face the approaching rebels. Rambo and Trautman, now at their flank, do all the damage they can. Rambo takes out 10 guys in :10 seconds from a truckbed-mounted gun!
(Here's
AllOuttaBubbleGum's Rambo III killcount video.)

In a truly magnificent Rambo moment (fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome action scene #6), he mounts a horse, takes off, is passed a lit Molotov cocktail, and riding all out, explosions behind him, while screaming, charges a tank! It's Rambo III's version of the Rambo: First Blood Part II's scene where Rambo fires into the air screaming after shooting up the command station. Meanwhile, Zaysen, still flying too low as he makes passes, strafes Trautman in the shoulder.

Zaysen takes a shot at Rambo on the horse, but is wide right and he has to circle and come back. He watches as the tank fires at Rambo as he charges, but it's a little short and the horse throws Rambo. On the next pass, Zaysen's gunman gets Rambo in the leg, but the helicopter has to pull up because it's too near the tank. Rambo recovers the Molotov cocktail, rolls out of the way so he won't be run over by the tank, and throws the bomb at the rear of the tank as Zaysen circles to come back around.

Now it's a race for Rambo to take cover before Zaysen can return. Between the Molotov cocktail that hits the back of the tank and a rocket that hits the front (launched by a villager and the boy), the tank fills with smoke, stops, and the two men inside try to escape. Rambo shoots them both, and under the watchful eye of Zaysen makes it inside the tank in time to be safe and get it moving again. Zaysen flies so low you think he wishes he was in a tank instead of a helicopter, and he blasts the tank. Next, Rambo takes out the other tank and charges after the helicopter. It's like Zaysen just can't believe it when Rambo takes out the other tank. Trautman's still in the game and, as Zaysen swings around, Trautman blasts the Soviet helicopter gunman and riddles him with bullets. By now, Zaysen has swung around again into position and is flying back.

And here comes fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Scene #7: The helicopter and the tank are playing chicken!! It's the sickest thing to see a tank at full speed racing toward a helicopter flying low. Rambo tries several times to blast the helicopter but the explosions all land behind it. Rambo switches to the machine gun and takes out Zaysen's copilot. At this moment, if Zaysen was sane, he would have pulled up but he doesn't, probably there was no time anyway. A second later Rambo starts screaming after the copilot kill and Zaysen starts screaming out of hatred and insanity. Then Rambo peppers Zaysen with bullets and the two vehicles collide head on. It's awesome to see the tank's long gun pierce the helicopter. KABOOM! The helicopter is blown to bits. The tank just stops dead. Rambo's beat up (and still has a bullet wound in his leg), but the tank is still in tact and he's all right and manages to climb out.

In the next scene, Mousa, Masoud, and the boy see the bandaged and cleaned-up Trautman and Rambo off. The boy asks Rambo to stay but he says he has to go. It's time.

As they drive away there is a message onscreen: "THIS FILM IS DEDICATED TO THE GALLANT PEOPLE OF AFGHANISTAN" and you can't help but wonder, how did we end up being enemies? (If you're interested, please read footnote 1 below.) The Rambo movies, especially this one, would not be as good without their attached historical ties. The fact that Stallone gave a damn about something and used real events in these movies is a tribute to his character. It informs and enriches the fictitious character, and he has our empathy. We feel for John Rambo because we felt for the Vietnam veterans, and we felt for the Afghan rebels too at the time. Still, if you know nothing about these events, this is still a fuck-yeah-crazy-awesome Action Movie! It more than satisfies all the Action Movie Essentials.

So Rambo came full circle back to being a fighting machine. In the next installment Rambo (4) we find him rotting away (hardly) in Burma (another civil war). Rambo does what Rambo does best (and updates the depiction of violence and gore! yay! LOL Action Movie Freaks have bloodthirsty souls), and at the end finally comes home. How Rambo "comes to terms" with who Trautman says he is "a full-blooded combat solider" remains to be seen (Rambo 5: Full Circle?). Can he come home and be at peace with himself with being violent? Knowing Rambo, it probably won't end happily or peacefully, but he will go out a hero. You just know if they kill him, we're all gonna cry.

_____________________________________________________________

1
Excerpted from the Wikipedia article on the Soviet war in Afghanistan:

BACKGROUND: What we believed at the time:
The Afghan government, having secured a treaty in December 1978 that allowed them to call on Soviet forces, repeatedly requested the introduction of Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the spring and summer of 1979. They requested the Soviet troops to provide security and to assist in the fight against the Mujahideen rebels.

United States President
Jimmy Carter insisted that what he termed "Soviet aggression" could not be viewed as an isolated event of limited geographical importance, but had to be contested as a potential threat to US influence in the Persian Gulf region (U.S. arrogance). The US was also worried about the USSR gaining access to the Indian Ocean by coming to an arrangement with Pakistan.

The anti-communist [Afghan Mujahideen] rebels garnered support from the United States.

In the mid-1980s, the Afghan resistance movement, assisted by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the People's Republic of China and others, contributed to Moscow's high military costs and strained international relations. The US viewed the conflict in Afghanistan as an integral Cold War struggle, and the CIA provided assistance to anti-Soviet forces through the Pakistani intelligence services, in a program called Operation Cyclone.[40][41]  A similar movement occurred in other Muslim countries, bringing contingents of so-called Afghan Arabs, foreign fighters who wished to wage jihad against the atheist communists. Notable among them was a young Saudi named Osama bin Laden, whose Arab group eventually evolved into al-Qaeda.[42][43]

What The Truth Was and Is . . .
As stated by [former Deputy National Security Advisor (1989-1991), former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1991-93),  and (2006-2011)] US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, in his [1996] memoirs From the Shadows, the US intelligence services began to aid the rebel factions in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet deployment.

On July 3, 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed an executive order authorizing the CIA to conduct covert propaganda operations against the communist regime.  Carter advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski stated: "According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after [emphasis added] the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, December 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise."

Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting US policy, which, unbeknownst even to the Mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." [emphasis added]  In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled: "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would . . .. That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap . . ..  The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter "We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."[21]

Historically, the Afghans have been undefeatable in war. A point well made in the movie. The Mujahideen say they brought down the USSR, not the US (damn straigh!).  And, at a high price—after 9 years of fighting—these are the figures From Wikipedia:

Estimates of the Afghan deaths vary from 100,000[76] to 1 million.[77] 5 million Afghans fled to Pakistan and Iran, 1/3 of the prewar population of the country. Another 2 million Afghans were displaced within the country. In the 1980s, half of all refugees in the world were Afghan.[78]  Along with fatalities were 1.2 million Afghans disabled (Mujahideen, government soldiers and noncombatants) and 3 million maimed or wounded (primarily noncombatants).[79] 

COMING FULL CIRCLE
In light of these behind-the-scenes manipulations that came out, it's no wonder the Mujahideen hate America. The US pretended they wanted to help them, when really they were just using the rebels as toy soldiers to fight, drain, and to try to bring down the USSR. If the Russians had won, how might the world have been different? September 11th may not have happened, but would worse things have? We can only wonder. The US was at war in Afghanistan then, but as puppeteers. Now (2001-present) they are at war in Afghanistan for real fighting the people they used. What goes around comes around.  I doubt the US learned anything about using people. I can only hope that the contrast of real-life evil and cowardice by the US government contrasts with the heroism represented in this movie. Not all Americans (I am not American) are greedy evil old white men, just the ones in power LOL, but hopefully, the Occupy Movement or just changing times, will change that. The US needs more men like Rambo with a strong moral code.

2 Dashaka 12.7-mm Soviet-designed/Chinese-made anti-aircraft gun see photo from Islamic Awakening.com.

3 From IMFDB: "[T]he star of the Rambo films, Rambo's knife is a survival knife with a screw open hilt butt filled with a suture needle and thread, a compass, and has gnarled teeth to cut barbed wire. It is so sharp it can cut paper like butter. The knife for this movie, and its sequel Rambo: First Blood Part II were designed by famed knife-smith Jimmy Lile."

 




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